The Old Man In Our Neighbourhood

The Old Man In Our Neighbourhood

Once, in our Neighbourhood, lived a certain old man, whose name none could really tell. We lived in that type of settlement where neighbours are not friends.

Oldman was the name everyone called him and the name became a favourite to kids and folks alike. As kids, we loved Oldman as we loved candies. Upon himself, he took the task to lock the gate every night. He became so permanent a sight that with him, age seemed to have taken flight. We met him as kids and grew into young adults only to notice; Oldman did not at all change. His moustache and the complementing beard served to complete the image of a sage, like Methuselah, whose picture our imaginative minds gave a grey appearance. It was a wonder, to those that did ponder, how, throughout our years of growing up Oldman remained unchanged in age and gait. Sturdy and stout, he would stand, like a rock, contemplating the world at a glance. He wore the same clean and faded clothes, every night, like an official uniform. Talk about his stride, he would take a step in what seemed like a life time, as the Ijele masquerade does, depicting the universe in motion.

From which household he always emerged, none of us quite gave a thought. In the day time, we didn’t ever see him, and no one ever bothered. We knew, for certain, he would come, passing by our houses in the night, with snail-like dignity, whistling a melodious tune. Oldman had a peculiar phrase, a stereotype response to the ‘Goodnight Oldman’ thrown at him from every compound. He would reply, “Night my people; night is so deep a mystery that every day-light must give way to it”. He would repeat this response, often mechanically, as many times as the number of family houses lined up on the path between wherever it was he always came from and the gate.

One very sad night, Oldman’s daylight gave way to night, eternal night…. He died. And that night every household was affrighted that Oldman did not pass their door-post on his ritual journey to lock the gate. A sort of dread, a nagging horror, seized us, when it became obvious Oldman would not cross. We mourned the demise of our Oldman. Yes! Indeed, he was our Oldman. He meant more to us than a man that locked our gate. He was a friend, an unobtrusive friend. It wasn’t until after his death that we discovered that he had actually belonged to us. It was an adult secret that Oldman didn’t have a place he could call his own. He slept in the verandas of any of the houses along the way to his gate, when the inhabitants must have been long asleep. He would sleep and leave before first cock-crow the following morning and always made sure not even a film of dust remained to tell of his presence. Until we became adults, we did not hear the story of the Oldman being told even in whispers.

Little did we know how attached we had become to the presence of the Oldman until his death left a vacuum; a yawning hole that left us naked and distraught. In our little community where no one was a friend to the other, we lost the only person that was a friend to everyone



11 thoughts on “The Old Man In Our Neighbourhood” by loneranger (@chidoziechukwubuike)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ace III, Myne Whitman. Myne Whitman said: Naija Stories – The Old Man In Our Neighbourhood: Once, in our Neighbourhood, lived a certain… http://goo.gl/fb/k8gX7 […]

  2. This is sad and touching…the tone of the entire work is sad and mellow…I like it.
    It also silently speaks to all of us…how many ‘old man’s do we have around us…at home..community…school..even on this site?! How many people have we become so used to we take for granted?!
    Well done. Thank you for reminding us our basic function as humans;reaching out to others.
    Again. Well done.

  3. Well, like this story depicted, I could have had such tendencies as a child, stare askance at some old man or woman roaming the streets or compounds or anywhere for that matter, but I never really grew up in the village. Staring is rude, kai! Could it be that this story is trying to tell us [me] to even be charitable to those ‘mad’ men and women as well? That would be so hard to do, o, Allah! :D

    This fictional piece was well-written. Well done, @Chidoziechukwubuike. You are a very good story-teller indeed, a near-flawless piece of fiction you got here. But don’t rest your oars either. A lot of work needs to be done, hm.

  4. DEAR WRITER @emmanuella and SEUN have almost said it all…you have here a good story with a fantastic message..well done but dont rest the hammer…what lies on the anvil can still be reshaped….

  5. This is a strange form of writing to me.. it’s also a unique style of writing to me… Thumbs up jare… The world is yet to see the best of Nigerian writings… Keep writing, let this dream come to pass…

  6. I loved the story. Old people are mostly like children, most times lovable. Loved the message as well. Could almost picture the exact video playing. Will ditto the others.

  7. hmmm… I guess eventually we realise that it is the little things and maybe, little people, that we overlooked in life that actually mattered.
    Good loneranger.

  8. One day, I will be able to write in the first person too, like this writer……lol.

    I like how you articulated the writing and still passed on the message.

    Well done!!!

  9. This story was sweet and touching in a way that I find hard to explain. Maybe it was because of how you showed the unobtrusive yet profound way Oldman had an impact on his community’s life… a way that was only fully understood after his passing. Well done, Loneranger.

  10. i like this
    yea.

  11. As others have said, you wrote this piece well.

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